Brand mascots are more than just cute characters or catchy symbols; they are the charismatic faces behind many of our favourite products and services. They act as the bridge between brands and consumers, enabling emotional connections to be forged and leave lasting impressions.
Close your eyes and think of a mascot.
Who did you see? Was it Mr Soft of Trebor Mints, or was it the Jolly Green Giant (“Ho, ho hoooo…”) forever tangled in with your memories of tinned sweetcorn? Those who grew up in the 80s will have different cultural touchstones to those who spent the 00s watching Pokemon on Saturday morning kids TV, and yet there are mascots that resonate with all. Many mascots are able to endure the passage of time and muddling of memory, if the branding has been totally nailed down.
We’ve chosen 7 mascots that we think will endure, or have already proven their longevity, as well as some honourable mentions for those that unsettled the public rather than comforted! So, in no particular order…
1. Michelin Man (Bibendum)
Well, what brand mascot list would be complete without the Michelin Man himself?
Real name; Bibendum. Gloriously roll-y and older than the invention of vacuum cleaners, The public appointed “Michelin Man” has been a cultural figure ever since the Michelin brothers saw a pile of tires at the 1894 World’s Fair and thought, “look, with arms, you’d make a man.”
He started his marketing life drinking cocktails of nails and broken glass to show how Michelin tyres just ‘swallow’ the debris in the road, showcasing the hardwearing nature of the tyre. The slogan that accompanied it read, “Cheers, the Michelin tyre drinks up obstacles!” to further emphasise the point.
From then, he became an educator, diplomat and at one point even a gladiator!
Bibendum has gone through a few makeovers over the last 130ish years, since his inception he’s slimmed down and adopted a friendlier demeanour since the days of the art nouveau style in advertising, but his effectiveness as a brand mascot has and will continue to endure.
2. Compare the Market (Meerkats)
We could write a love letter to this mob of meerkats.
If you grew up in the UK, you’ll remember exactly when in 2009 the Hugh Hefner inspired Russian oligarch-like meerkat, Aleksandr Orlov and his companion Sergei, introduced themselves and their frustration with the confusion between CompareTheMarket and CompareTheMeerkat.
It’s a brand mascot, nay, a brand legacy based upon a loose pun and the public loved it.
Their catchphrase, ‘Simples,’ infiltrated the public lexicon so pervasively that it’s now an entry in the Oxford English dictionary. This is brand awareness and recognition that most advertisers can only dream of and on the surface it just seems so… simples.
It’s been 14 years since Aleksandr and Sergei debuted and it’s safe to say, as mascots go, we’d rank these as super catchy any day of the week.
3. GoCompare Man – (Gio Compario)
There must have been something in the water in 2009 for two insurance comparison companies to have created brand power houses. The Go Compare Man – Gio Compario, is probably the UK’s most recognisable operatic singer (move over, Pavorotti).
Employing the tried and tested advertising jingle, the Go Compare Man may split public opinion, like Marmite, on whether they like him or not. However, he’s memorable. The jingle is annoyingly more so. If someone played those two notes around a group of your average Brits, the recall on the next line would be insane.
4. Honey Monster Puffs (Honey Monster)
This brand mascot was so popular and successful that the brand itself changed its name! Yep, we only found this out while putting together this article but since 2014, Sugar Puffs have been no more, and the Honey Monster has been front and centre as the true star of the show.
Starting out as the Honey Monster for Sugar Puffs, the fuzzy yellow creature debuted in 1977 and is most likely the result of the psychedelic, ethereal fashions of the decade.
Obviously, if we were to classify any one of these as “super creepy” in our own opinion… the Honey Monster would be up there, and we’re not the only ones!
The most recent makeover of the brand sees the yellow monster remain central to the brand, but the realism’s been ditched for a more stylised look to have a “naïve, storybook feel”, according to Robot Food senior designer Mike Johns.
“We thought the honey monster was a bit creepy, so we took away the realism and modernised it,” he says. “The character still engages by looking at the consumer, but we’ve made it more personable.”
We think it was a good decision.
5. Kevin the Carrot
Well, someone had to try and counter Coca-Cola’s “Holidays are Coming” Christmas teasers, didn’t they?
Kevin the Carrot debuted in 2016, and we’ve spoken about him before. Since his debut he’s captured the hearts of shoppers and become a beloved symbol of the Aldi brand; demographically it’s not kids spurring the craze, it’s the adults joining in on a bit of silliness.
He’s certainly been the most marketable brand mascot on this list with Aldi releasing collectible versions of the veggie, from plush toys to tree ornaments and a special royal edition for the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla!
6. Churchill the Dog
Churchill isn’t just synonymous with the more famous Winston, this charming nodding bulldog is an iconic feature of the 90s and early 00s. Who couldn’t be charmed by him and his reassuring “Oh yes!” No one, that’s who.
Churchill’s nodding mascot made the intimidating notion of insurance a friendlier one as he nodded in approval of customers’ wise insurance decisions, offering peace of mind in the process.
Still sad we missed out on nabbing one of those nodding toys to put in the car though!
7. Ronald McDonald
Burgers. Fries. Clowns?
Well, it worked and this list would be empty without the Big Mac himself: Ronald McDonald.
One of just many cast of characters the Golden Arches have in their repertoire, this guy can go one of two ways for people; delight or dismay. Probably depends on your opinion of clowns first!
True to his roots though, Ronald McDonald is more than a mascot, he’s an entertainer! If you ever meet him, he’ll either be flipping burgers behind the counter, or making balloon animals. Either way, this clown has charisma making him a brilliant brand mascot that teeters the line between super catchy AND super creepy.
Do you have any memories of these brand mascots? Did they creep you out a little for reasons unbeknownst to you? Either way, leaving a lasting impression like that is the sign of a highly successful brand mascot and there are way, way, way too many to put into a listicle. Feel free to chime in with mascots you can think of, as we’d love to hear them!
How have these mascots helped their brands?
They’ve given something for the customer to connect with with a trustworthy and recognisable face. A customer will trust Michelin because the Michelin Man is familiar, or how Snap, Crackle and Pop are household staple cereals because basically everyone knows the gnomes and the noises of the cereal they’re onomatopoeias for. By being memorable, people link the brand to the product and sales are increased directly.
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